SCARBOROUGH — At a session during the 2021 Maine Affordable Housing Conference, held virtually Oct. 20, Town & Country Federal Credit Union’s President and CEO David Libby, discussed the ‘cooperative model’ as an option in helping provide more affordable housing in Maine.

MaineHousing coordinated the two-day conference on Oct. 20-21. Libby was one of three featured presenters in a session called, “Innovations in Home Ownership,” and highlighted the success and popularity of cooperatives in Maine and how the cooperative model can be utilized as part of the solution to increasing affordable housing options in Maine.

“Housing, specifically affordable housing, is at a crossroads in Maine,” he said. “There is a growing demand combined with a lack of affordable housing and an aging housing stock that are factors that make it essential to explore new options. Cooperatives have a long history of bringing people together to find solutions to problems. As a cooperative ourself, Town & Country takes very seriously our role of cooperating to help and support other cooperatives. That’s why the title of this session, ‘Innovations in Home Ownership’, is very apropos. We believe that expanding the cooperative approach to affordable housing is an innovative approach that has proven successful on a smaller scale already but is worth exploring on a wider scope.”

Libby cited the strength of cooperatives in Maine already covering a range of industries including financial, agriculture, fishing, daycares, housing and many others. “Today, there are hundreds of thousands of Mainers that belong to a co-op and that number continues to grow each year. Currently, there are 12 housing cooperatives in Maine serving 500 families and that is just in the past few years. Examples, such as Raise-Op in Lewiston, and several Maine-manufactured housing community housing co-ops demonstrate that the cooperative model is a viable option for affordable housing. We were the first cooperative to offer support and share knowledge to the Maine Cooperative Development Partners that is planning to build a new housing co-op project known as Lambert Woods in Portland. We look forward to being involved in this and other cooperative housing projects moving forward.”

“Affordable housing is not a new problem in Maine, but the time has come to think differently about housing options in Maine. Town & Country believes its critical to create a dialogue with others to explore options and solutions. On our own through innovative events and discussions and forging partnerships and relationships with organizations, such as Habitat for Humanity, Tiny Homes and companies that are looking to expand Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) in Maine, we look forward to continuing the discussion to find solutions that can provide positive change in our communities. As a cooperative, it’s an important part of what we are structured to do,” Libby said.

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